Wild Ducklings Arrive On Doormat: Love Story Begins
Written by Lynne Hoad of South Australia
My family and I had recently moved to a house on three acres of land that was on the boundary of a national park. It was October but still quite cold and I was in the kitchen getting lunch ready when I noticed my two muskovy ducks at the back door looking down at something. I came around to the door and could not believe what I saw. There were three little wild ducklings sitting on the doormat!
My ducks had a quick look, decided these strange stripey balls of fluff did not belong to them and walked away. I hastily found a shoe box and put some tissues in the bottom, then went to the door and opened it. I knelt down carefully and scooped them up into my hand and gently put them in the box and took them into by bedroom and put them on the bed where it was quiet.
I went outside and looked around everywhere but I couldn’t find the parents or any sign of a nest. I went back inside and rang Minton Farm which is a local rescue organization and asked the lady Bev what I should feed the ducklings and then promptly sent my husband out to buy some ‘duck crumbles’ from the local fodder store, making sure that he got the organic mix and not the hormone-filled duck raising pellets.
We searched in the shed and found a large wooden box and brought that inside and put it on our spare bed in the lounge room with plenty of plastic underneath and then attached a lamp to the top side, lined it with newspaper and a big bunch of dried wild grasses from our paddock for a bed. I made up a slushy mix of duck crumbles and added another dish of water before putting the ducklings in.
I fed them for about three months, adding wild seeds, bugs and duckweed to their diet. I would take them out every day to an outside pen for them to have a swim and some sunshine. My daughter and I would sit in there with them and they would climb all over us. It turned out that they were what is known locally as wood ducks, which are actually related to the goose family, though they are quite small and look more like ducks. After a while, I put them outside permanently in a pen next to our other ducks and then went about the task of finding them a permanent home where they would be safe from foxes and feral cats, which we believe were responsible for the demise of their parents.
Happily, after a week of phone calls, I was able to get them a home at the Warrawong Sanctuary not very far from where I live. We took them there and were met by a ranger who took us through to the part of the sanctuary that has a lake surrounded by grasslands and a large wooded area. We let them out and they were very intrigued with the place but a little wary, so we stayed for a while until they wandered off by themselves. The hardest part was leaving them behind. As I went out through the last gate, I turned and saw that they were flying after me and it was heart-wrenching, but it was the best I could do for them and I’m sure they are very happy in their new home.